From Couch to Middlesbrough 10km – 14 Top tips on how I did it and how you can too!

A journey from Couch to Middlesbrough 10km, to The Great North Run

Why I decided to start running

On fourth of September 2022, I completed my first ever 10k run. It was Middlesbrough 10K run. My friend Izzy joined me and I placed 970th and finished in 1 hour 22 mins! It was such a great atmosphere and so much fun. We raised £265.00 for Teesside Hospice and I ran in memory of my Dad, and Izzy’s ‘Dad Up North’ John Bell.

My friend Katrina and I are signing up for Middlesbrough 10k Run 2023 and I am running The Great North Run for Teesside Hospice, hoping to raise £500.00 in memory of my Dad and to support the great work Teesside Hospice do.

If you would like to sponsor me, our Just Giving Page is here.

My inspiration for Middlesbrough 10km race

I started running for a whole host of reasons. The main one being I wanted to do something to challenge myself that I could work towards. I wanted something to help me to clear my mind and learn to make peace with things that had happened in my life.
Booking the run, running for Teesside Hospice and having a date to work towards really helped spur me on.
It is something I had wanted to do for over a decade, I had even bought the pink Addidas shorts I have on in the picture in 2013!

A positive journey to training for The Great North Run 2023

I didn’t realise, when I downloaded Zen Fitness’ Couch to 10K app what a journey I would go on. Now, I regularly run on a Tuesday with local running club ‘More Than A Run’ , made loads of memories and friends and my fitness has transformed. I have so much more energy and feel happier. The combination of the outdoors and movement does wonders for physical and mental wellbeing. I used to struggle running to the road, now I enjoy running so much I have signed up to do The Great North Run.

Joining the regular training sessions with More Than A Run really helped support me with my training. I found it inspiring that people in their 60’s were training and running. They were so fast and fit, it was amazing and I found it really motivating.

If I can do it, anyone can! Here is how I did it and tips for how you can do it to!

How to start training for Middlesbrough 10km run

faceless person jogging in empty park
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

1. Give yourself enough time to train

The couch to 10k app takes 14 weeks to complete, if you run 3 times a week consistently in that time. I completed the app in roughly 18 weeks, as sometimes the inevitable life gets in the way. Feeling poorly, or having other commitments etc. So it is good to give yourself a buffer and time before, so that you can comfortably complete the app and not cause yourself stress or pressure trying to complete it in precisely 14 weeks.

Prioritise your training and health in this period. It is important you train regularly to build stamina, muscle strength and improve cardio-vascular fitness in a consistent, steady way.

Also, make sure you do some stretches after your run because your legs will thank you for it! Some simple but effective stretches for the legs can be found here.

unrecognizable male and female friends warming up in park before training
Photo by Andres Ayrton on

Don’t forget to stretch after every jog!

Pro top tip

2. Take time for self care and recovery

You must make sure to have rest days and give your muscles, ligaments and tendons time to recover. Stretching, as mentioned before really helps to avoid injury. Baths help to relieve aching muscles. Meditation, Yoga and Relaxation techniques can help also. We have lots of free resources that can help with self-care and recovery.

a romantic setting in the bathroom
Photo by Taryn Elliott on

3. Commit to training three times a week

I was really surprised and happy with the progress I made when I committed to three practices a week. Initially, I started off with three by myself, then two independently and one with a running group. I went from running for 1 minute and walking for 1.5 minutes, to running a full 5k in three weeks and due to the consistency, it did not feel like a chore at all. A commitment in this way is a way to steadily build up stamina, muscle, lung capacity, cardio-vascular fitness and have you on the way to your first 10k.

4. Download an app to help you train

There are many apps that you can use to help you train for your 1st ever 10k run. There are also many couch to 5k apps. My favourite app is Zen Fitness couch to 10k. Where you initially start with Couch to 5k, then when completed, move on to 5k to 10k. There is also the NHS app ‘couch to 5k’ that can help support. They all map routes, count calories burnt and count distances achieved. Keeping track and monitoring milestones has really helped motivate me. I know it has with others and I am sure a good app will be a great tool to help you succeed.

5. Buy some good running trainers, running jacket and socks too!

Having the correct gear will help you achieve your goals and avoid injury or being uncomfortable. I realised that correct running socks were important when wearing usual day to day socks caused my running shoes to rub against my Achilles heel. This caused painful blisters that took time to heal, making it painful to train.

I also noticed the need for a water proof, wind proof light rain jacket. Living in England, there will be inevitable times you will need to train in the rain. It is a refreshing experience, if you have the correct equipment!

6. Make a motivational music playlist or download/listen to podcasts

Having your favourite tracks and podcasts on hand can really help to motivate you. When I used to jog, before using music and an app, I used to get demotivated quickly. After that period, I stopped running. When I downloaded an app and used playlists, I found using music consequently made me more motivated. As a result, I enjoyed going on more regular runs.

7. Go out jogging with friends and family, or coincide with walks. Vary where you run.

My partner refuses to run with me, but loves walking, especially as we now have a Whippet in our lives! So, I will often go for a jog and she will walk, then we will meet for a coffee before heading home. We often pick places and locations with good coffee near by that is dog friendly. You can see more of our favourite dog friendly places in our blog here. I also have persuaded some friends to join me in training. Having friends and family to go jogging with means a wonderful opportunity to catch up and spend time being healthy together. We go to lots of different locations to keep us motivated.

Dog friendly walks, Infinity Bridge aerial shot Stockton on Tees

The Tees Barrage to the Infinity Bridge in Stockton-on-Tees is a favourite jogging spot of mine.

8. Dedication and consistency is key

As with any practice, the more you dedicate to it, the more rewards you will reap.
When you start to run longer distances, it is important to go out regularly. If you don’t, you risk injury. When you are consistent and build up in a gentle, accessible way, your stamina and fitness will build gently too. Being dedicated will allow you to see the mental and physical benefits. Running sporadically and not following a plan will mean your fitness will not build and when it comes to the 10k race, you will not feel prepared. To avoid this, allow yourself time and space to train consistently.

9. Find a running group to help support you

There are many different running groups that can help support you on your journey. I train with ‘More Than A Run’ who are a local community interest company. They have helped support me and spurred me on to keep running. Even in the winter months, they meet weekly. The group leaders and the participants are warm, welcoming and friendly. they do regular 10k run training sessions over the Summer at Middlesbrough Sports Village. A quick google search will help you find local groups to support you.

10. Join a Park Run

unrecognizable woman jogging along footpath in park
Photo by Enric Cruz López on

ParkRun is a free community event that happens all over the UK every Saturday morning. I usually attend Stewart Park Run and Albert Park Run. They are warm, friendly, supportive events with people spurring you on at every corner. At Stewart Park, there is option of tea and coffee, or a hot chocolate at the two cafes.

11. Log your progress

Using an app to map your runs and see the progress you are making can be really motivating. I really enjoy seeing my statistics and progress. It is a great inspiration.

12. Sign up for the run

Once you have signed up, you will feel motivated to attain your goal. Especially if you opt to run for charity and have donations coming in. It really spurred me on when I knew I had an end date and needed to be race-fit for that day.

13. Stay hydrated and take water on your runs

Upto 70% of our body is made up of water. Staying hydrated and taking water with you makes it easier to keep going when longer runs start to become more challenging. It helps us replace water lost through sweat. It is really important to include it as part of training as we build up to longer races and events.

Drink more water!

Pro top tip

14. Have fun and be proud of the steps you are taking towards improving your own physical and mental wellness.

This is an amazing journey and you will make so much progress on your new path. You will make new friends and your body and mind will thank you. Practising outdoors has an array of health benefits. After completing your 1st 10k run, you will look back and feel a sense of achievement and probably sign up for more events! It becomes addictive! I hope you enjoy catching the running bug as much as me!

Will you be running the Middlesbrough 10K or Great North Run in 2023?
Do you have any advice, tips of pointers to share?
Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading, Aimee.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: